Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Oh.My.Word. This heat has got to GO! Yesterday was Day 1 of what will likely be a solid week of triple digit heat here. And the preceding days were high 90's. My plants are well and truly ticked off and so is my AC.

Our house has NO shade because a couple of years ago we had to take down 2 HUGE trees due to structural issues (that were discovered after another one had fallen on my car during a storm). So our really ancient central air unit gets a hell of a workout when the temps go above 90!

I tend to bump the air down to 78 at night so we can sleep decently, but we suffer through 80+ during the day. Lots of shorts and tanktops and hair pulled up off of the neck around here! Yesterday though, I made a terrible mistake. I got in a hurry getting ready for work and forgot to bump the AC up. I got home and the air was running full blast, and it was still 83 degrees in the house (1957 house with crappy insulation and original windows). I looked at the thermostat and realized it was still set on 78. Oh, crap. That meant the AC had likely been running like that since at least 10 am! I bumped the thermostat up so that it would shut off and take a break for a bit.

I'll have to be a lot more careful today. The Princess has to work so at least she'll be keeping it cool there. For me, no yard work today.... I think I'll clean house, do laundry and maybe get started on cleaning out that disaster I "call" a home office --- which is really just a room with crap everywhere!

Happy Saturday Y'all -- and keep it cool if you can!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Not Really Groceries

Lately I've noticed that often if I go do my grocery shopping after work on the day the sale starts, a LOT of my favored deals have already disappeared. This is always frustrating to me. This week I realized that pretty much everything I wanted at "stock up" price was NON perishable and could sit the afternoon out in my care, so I made a 7 a.m. trip to Publix on Wednesday to take advantage of the deals!

This is NOT what I'd call a "grocery" trip, but more a household consumable trip featuring rock bottom prices (or close to rock bottonm) for things we use all the time.

So here's what I grabbed in my 15-minute-pre-work-shopping-extravaganza:

4 Herbal Essences Shampoos
4 Herbal Essences Conditioners
2 Dial Liquid Handsoap
8 Purina Busy Bone Packs
1 Publix Tortilla Chips (Penny Item!)

Spent: $27.05
Saved: $38.95 - or 59%


Thursday, June 28, 2012

A (Mostly) Free Vacation

A friend of mine, Singer Girl, has invited me to the beach for a week. Given my current freaking out about the financial aid situation, my first instinct is to not go. However, this trip will only cost me the food I eat and the beverages I drink. That's it. Nothing else. She's got the place to stay, she's covering transportation and despite the fact that I live in a Gulf State, I haven't put my toes in the white sand of the Alabama or Florida beaches in almost 2 1/2 years!

I completely trust the Princess to stay on her own for a week -- however, she's not 100% comfortable doing that, so I've asked my niece to stay with her on the overnight part. This would also let us avoid having to board Thing 1 and Thing 2 and my plants and veggies will be watered. My niece can do it, except for a couple of nights so we will have to figure those nights out.

I know that this trip will involve quite a few restaurant meals --- Singer Girl likes to eat out mostly. I will have to be very careful about what I order when we are out to keep control of the costs. I see a LOT of salads in my future that week!

So, I'm going. I'm going to put my toes in the sand of the Gulf Beaches. I'm going to sit on the edge of the water in my beach chair with a good book while the waves lap at my toes. I'm going to walk on the water's edge and daydream about the future. I'm going to slather on sunscreen and enjoy all that the white sandy beaches offer. I cannot freaking wait!!!!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tightening That Belt --- Again!

After the rigamarole of the IRS losing my tax return, delay after delay in getting my income verified, we FINALLY got everything necessary together for Financial Aid (for the 3rd time). And today we got the Award Letter.

I've heard that the longer it takes to get the Financial Aid stuff processed, the less Aid is actually available. And let me tell you, I think that is ABSOLUTELY the case. The award came in at about a quarter of what the estimated "qualified amount" was. The freshman year on campus will completely wipe out ever penny I have saved for the Princess's college education.

Now, more than ever, I've got to get out from under this hell I call my credit card debt. I've got to make harder cuts and harder choices. And I'm not even sure where to start.

So, time to cut and snip, tighten and stretch --- its going to be an interesting four years.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grocery Shopping Just For Deals

I generally try to just hit Publix once per sale cycle to take advantage of the best deals available. Fewer trips generally means I spend less money on impulse purchases. However, I had gotten pretty far behind on my coupon clipping, and I knew from my previous trip in the week that I was missing out on some pretty decent deals (especially on the clearance rack) by not being prepared. So, I took the time, and went through my STACKS of coupon inserts and finally caught myself up! Plus, I RAN OUT OF COFFEE! (Being behind on the clipping meant I also missed some coffee deals --- sigh).

So coupons in hand, I made the trip to Publix and got the following:

3 Voskos Greek Yogurt
4 Schick Shaving Gel (yeah, we don't care that it is for "Men" --- we just don't want to cut our legs to ribbons! Clearance Rack)
2 Secret 6 Barbeque Sauce
2 Cesar Dog Treats
1 Magnum Double Caramel Ice Cream Bars
1 Maxwell House Coffee (not my normal brand, but I just couldn't pay full price for my normal one -- yikes!)
2 Disney Gummy Vitamins (Clearance Rack, but don't expire for another 18 months)
1 Emerald Breakfast ToGo (These are for my snack drawer at work --- I've been too tempted by the vending machines lately)

Spent: $24.21
Saved: $35.17 or 59%

They were also out of a couple of things I had planned to get, so I picked up rainchecks for those which will definitely be used!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

eBooks vs. Textbooks -- What to Do?

So, yesterday I sat through hours and hours of parent seminars for the Princess's new adventure in college. Textbooks are, of course, one of those areas that can blow a budget out of the water, and it also seems to be one of the easiest areas in which to cut costs. Reviewing all of the information it seems like we have several options:

  • Buy New (NOT gonna happen)
  • Buy Used (also unlikely)
  • Rent the Hardcover (bookstore or other source such)
  • Buy the eBook
  • Rent the eBook
Of course to have the eBooks you have to have a device to read them on, so then you have to choose among the devices. Kindle or Nook?

The school bookstore is a Barnes & Noble, so of course they were pushing the Nook. However, it seems the Kindle has many of the same options after browsing over it. So, then of course we are looking at which one.... given that there seems to be "only" a $120 span between bottom of the line and top of the line, one then has to decide on which option.

So, please... give me your thoughts! What are your experiences with either device? Has your student (or you!) used the eBooks instead of traditional textbooks? Pros, Cons?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Heigh Ho! Heigh Ho! Off to School I Go!

I'm up bright and early thismorning ---- well technically not bright --- because the sun isn't even up yet. Today I am heading to the Princess's college of choice for orientation and registration. This is a 2 day event in which the students stay overnight on campus and the parents go for seminars too. After talking with the admissions office, we determined that it is not really necessary for me to be there on day 2. This is good in that it saves me quite a lot of money in hotels, meals out and boarding Thing 1 and Thing 2.

The Princess, back from her cruise will meet me there, as she is still at her Dad's, which is further south. I'm a bit nervous about her making the drive, mainly because she is taking a route she has not taken before, but she has my GPS, and her roommates Mom will be following behind her a little bit later --- so basically, if she has any trouble, another Mom can get to her rather quickly.

For now though, I've got to go get myself ready for the adventure that lies ahead. Y'all have a fabulous Monday!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Free Smart Phone?

The Princess has wanted a Smart Phone for a long time. I get that -- I have one, provided by my work and she has really wanted one badly. Through patience and trading phones with each other, we were finally due for an upgrade on her line, and I had decided to get her one for her birthday. Problem was, through a series of screw ups by the in store staff at my provider, the upgrade wasn't showing. I had all the documentation I needed, and the current store employees could see the problem clearly, but only the store manager could make that roll back to grant the upgrade. I'd been working on getting the problem resolved last month, and then got busy and couldn't get back into the store.

Then while paying my bill online yesterday, I saw that my provider was offering free smart phones, (after rebate) with the full upgrade. Time to get the issue resolved. So I went into the store. The manager was at the other store, but I was fortunate enough that the same employees I'd talked to before were there, and they got the manager on the phone and figured out how to do what I needed to do to make it all work out. Technically, I had to go ahead and pay for the phone, which I would have to anyway with the rebate, but they are crediting my bill back for the full amount --- and I got it in writing! I'll be paying the upgrade fee and the sales taxes --- about $40 total.

Getting a Smart Phone meant I also had to add a data plan at an additional $25 per month. Gulp. But okay, I was getting the phone for a net cost of free, so I could work with this. So, I signed up. After we got all the stuff done, the person at the store gave me the total cost of my new plan, after tax. I was a bit stunned at the cost. I pulled out the confirmation from the bill I had paid earlier in the day, and asked him to repeat the number while I looked at my previous cost. It was $2 LESS than what I was paying already --- with the data plan added!!!!

So, for $16 net, ($40 for taxes and fees - $24 annual savings on monthly bill), the Princess has a new smart phone with a data plan. Yes, I had to do another contract, but despite my griping last summer, I really have been happy overall with my provider these last 12 years. So, I guess they've got me for another 2!!!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Cheap Hair Care Edition

I made another trip back to Publix during this last sale cycle, mainly to use coupons since I've been so disorganized with them lately. I did a stock up on Pantene Shampoo and Conditioner since Publix had a Buy 3 Get 1 Free promotion AND I had 2 $3 off 2 coupons --- making the Pantene come in at $1.12/bottle. Not a bad deal. And see that box of hair color? Well, it was on clearance for $2.49 AND I had a $2 off coupon. .49 to fight Mother Nature tooth and nail? I'm all over it. I had more coupons, but that was the only one on clearance that was my color, so I just got the one. Anyway, this is what all I picked up:

4 Pantene Shampoos and Conditioners
1 Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Color
6 International Delight Coffee Creamers (yes, I have issues, yes these will all get used LONG before their expiration date)
1 Angel Soft 12 Pack (Double Roll)

I had coupons for everything I bought and they were all on sale to some extent which made it a MUCH happier trip!

Spent: $20.95
Saved: $28.84 or 58%

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Harvesting Those Veggies

I kind of struggled with buying zucchini over the weekend. I knew I had some almost ready to pick from my container garden, but they weren't quite ready. I was doing freezer cooking THAT day so went ahead and bought them. In the 3 days since then, I had FIVE ready to pick -- -plus another bell pepper.

So far, the hardest thing with keeping my plants going (at least the zucchinis and bell peppers) has been keeping them watered enough. They get FULL sun, and by full, I mean from sunrise until about 4 in the afternoon. That's a LOT of sun. And heat. My tomatoes are another story. They've suffered a bit from blossom end rot, so I haven't been able to harvest a single one. I've done a lot of reading though, and hopefully I know how to handle it now. I hope..... I want a tomato sandwich!!!!!

The best thing about my veggies is they are FREE. Completely and 100%. I bought the plants and soil with gift cards. They have been watered 100% from either mother nature herself, or from the water I collected in my rain barrel.

It has definitely been more fun than work to fuss over my plants. I even have a pseudo competition going on with my friend the Garden Geek, who has a HUGE veggie garden while I only have my three little containers. I'm sure the Garden Geek would be surprised that we are in competition, as it is mostly in my head! :-)

How about you, how is your garden growing?????

**Linked up to Frugal Friday at Life As Mom

Monday, June 11, 2012

Getting Ready for More Freezer Cooking

Lately, its been difficult to choose what to make for dinner. I haven't done a lot of grocery shopping really, my freezer has been completely out of the bases for meals and we've just been busy busy busy. However, a rainy day, the Princess on the road in terrible weather, all set up the perfect opportunity for me to remedy that situation (I needed something to keep me from totally flipping out about her being on the road). So, I did a quick browse through my Pinterest boards and decided to make some of the stuff I'd pinned in addition to my "normal" freezer cooking.

That very large list resulted in a trip to Aldi to get me the proper ingredients --- here's what I got:

Quick Oats
2 lbs. Strawberries
Chicken Breasts
2 Avocados
2 Spaghetti Sauce
Cauliflower (and yikes, looking at the receipt, I read the price wrong -- $1.99 is a lot for a veggie I don't even like, but just have a recipe I want to try to see if it might make me like it!!!!)
Ground Beef
Great Northern Beans
Dried Cranberries
Sweet Potatoes
Turkey Lunch Meat
Egg Noodles
Black Beans


Then I got busy freezer cooking --- didn't finish everything I wanted to get done, but I definitely made some headway and an empty house all this week will provide me with some more opportunities to get it all done.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Putting My Heart on The Road

Today the Princess leaves to head down to Mobile and then over to New Orleans to go on a cruise to Mexico with her Grandparents. Sounds fabulous doesn't it?

Only problem is the weather for the 4 hour drive looks to be horrendous. I'm scared to death. Basket case even. And this looks to continue all day long. The Mobile area alreadygot hit with flooding yesterday. And it is raining again. And that rain is just going to push northward all day.

Yeah, I'm putting my heart on the road today, and I'm terrified. Any and all prayers for safe travels would be appreciated.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Very First Harvest

I like to garden. In fact, where flowers and other pretty plants are concerned, I have a pretty green thumb. I've never had much luck with veggies though. I think a lot of that is because I've not given them the love, attention and water they deserved, desired and needed. Growing veggies takes some patience and I'm not really always the patient sort.

My friend, Garden Geek, inspired me this year though. In early Spring, Garden Geek was busy planting seeds in itty bitty pots, making degradable newspaper larger pots to transfer the seedlings to, and then eventually planting decent sized crops of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and peas. Being the competitive sort, I didn't want to be left in the dust on this endeavor. I also didn't want to spend a ton of money on produce either this season, so I decided to give veggies another shot.

Now, I will be honest and say that I didn't go so far as to start my plants from seed. I really don't have a good sunny spot in my house for struggling seedlings to hang out, so I "bought" my plants. I put bought in quotation marks because I got my veggie plants and the potting soil to put in my containers with gift cards I'd been given. So, my out of pocket for this endeavor was basically zero!

Anyway, I ended up getting bell pepper, tomatoes, zucchini and basil for my container garden on the deck. My plants are getting HUGE. I've had a bit of a struggle with the zucchini --- I think it gets too much sun and tends to get wilty in the afternoons and the container dries out pretty quickly --- wilty plant equals wilty veggies I've found.

However, my peppers and tomatoes are rolling along very well, and earlier this week, I harvested my very first homegrown bell peppers! I've heard before that if you grow them yourself, veggies always taste better. Not sure if I'm biased (probably so), but those two peppers were the best peppers I've ever had in my whole life! I sliced them up and took them to work with a smidge of light ranch dressing for my afternoon snack. They were yum!

I'm hoping to yield many many more veggies over the course of the summer. This will help my grocery bill AND help my overall goal of eating healthier. Sounds like a win/win to me!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Finally! A Post! Groceries!!!!!

I have been ridiculously busy lately and therefore have just not posted. Nothing really exciting, just LIFE, you know? I managed a quick trip to Publix on Wednesday -- mainly because I was out of coffee creamer (mornings are NOT pretty around here if I don't have creamer for my coffee!) and the penny item was TP! I mean, who doesn't like almost free TP?

Anyway, it was a quick trip, and the only coupons I had were the blinkies I found at Publix for the creamer (yea!) and the penny item and so I just got the following:

6 International Delight Coffee Creamer
2 Kraft Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese
1 Fig Newtons
1 Publix Greenwise Toilet Paper

Spent: $13.08
Saved: $13.22

Not too bad. But I seriously need to jump back on that coupon bandwagon!